Kiss of Judas, n.d. (after 1860)
Oil on canvas, 57 x 51 cm.
Inventory number: 0122NMK
Acquired before 1884. Bestowed to the museum in 1908
With dynamic brush strokes, dimmed lighting and a dramatic composition, Marstrand has depicted the moment of Judas’ betrayal of Christ. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas has just identified Christ to the soldiers by means of a kiss. With weapons and torches in hand, the menacing soldiers have gathered around the company, ready to arrest him. Marstrand has depicted Judas in a stooped posture to emphasise his treasonous but also guilt-inducing act of betrayal. This stands in sharp contrast to the depiction of Christ, who with his straight posture, calm expression and stoicism radiates an acceptance of his ultimate fate. Marstrand amplifies the dramatic nature of this fateful scene by painting the entire composition in a sombre colour palette, only broken by a single light from a torch. The format suggests that the picture is a sketch for an altarpiece.
Wilhelm Marstrand (1810-1873)
Marstrand was among C.W. Eckersberg’s students and was, as the only one, very interested in narrative and illustrative painting. Marstrand worked with genre painting, literary subjects, portraiture and, in later years, history painting. He was frequently employed as a portraitist and painted a series of portraits of members of the Hage family, among others. Marstrand travelled throughout his life in the larger European countries such as Italy, France, Germany and England. He was particularly fascinated by Italy, where he stayed for several years. From here, he became a major producer of peculiar, touching, and often humorous or ironic depictions of the Italian folk life that so fascinated him.